Over the course of my 1,145 blog posts generated to date, at least 90% of them have been strictly about walking, which makes sense since the title of this blog is “Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy”.
Admittedly, I’ve strayed off the beaten path, meandering from the usual tales from the trail, to occasionally write about a fond memory, especially for holidays, special occasions and life events. Like today’s topic … graduation.
This morning it was hot and humid when I stepped out the door – not quite tropical, but gettin’ there. I ended up walking five miles and came home feeling like a limp dishrag. This morning’s trek got me over the 400-mile hump, so I’ve now walked 401 miles thus far this year, with only 650 more miles to meet my goal. I’m willing if Mother Nature cooperates, but she’s not been too helpful the first half of 2018.
That five-mile trek in the heat and humidity was admirable, but 45 years ago today, I took a short and memorable walk … a few steps that took me across the stage at Cobo Hall in Detroit, along with 612 of my classmates from Lincoln Park High School. The occasion was our high school graduation ceremony. The event was on a Wednesday, just like today, with similar weather – it was a sweltering hot evening.
The fashion for girls circa 1973 was flirty mini dresses and I was wearing an outfit that I had sewn myself. I used to make all my own clothes because I was tall and couldn’t always find clothes that did not look like they belonged to my little sister. I wore that dress with sky-high platform sandals which were also the rage at the time. Looking at the photograph while preparing this blog post, I wondered why I thought I needed to add another three inches to my five foot nine inch height? My father took some photos before we left the house for the graduation ceremony.
There was a hubbub of commotion at Cobo Hall as our 613 classmates assembled for the commencement ceremony. We were excited, as well as a little nervous, and, since we were all clustered together, it soon got hot in the stage waiting area. I was warm wearing that heavy royal blue gown and the uncomfortable mortarboard perched on my head, and, I knew it would take forever to proceed to the letter “S” last names. So, like many of my classmates, I unzipped the gown quite a lot to cool off a bit. Big mistake. Finally, the person calling the newly minted graduates’ names reached the tail end of the “Rs” so I decided to put myself back together again in anticipation of “the walk” to receive my diploma and the eventual flipping of that orange and blue tassel from right to left.
But, horrors of horrors, the gown’s front zipper was stuck – the teeth did not want to mesh properly. Oh for goodness sake! All decorum surely would be lost if I had to walk across the stage with my bright-red mini dress peeking out of the gown. My brain was churning with options as we were now in the “S” names. So, do I clutch the front of the gown to make that walk? But then, how would I shake the person’s hand and take my diploma from them with the other hand simultaneously?
But that zipper was still stuck.
Finally, I had to enlist the aid of several fellow “S” through “Z” named classmates. With three of us working on the stupid zipper, and one quick successful final tug, decorum was restored and a minute or two later I was off, treading carefully, so as not to trip in those clunky shoes as I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma .
It was a traumatic event at the time and here I am writing about it some 45 years later and laughing as I recall my near-faux pas.
When the graduation ceremony was over, we flipped our tassels from right to left signifying we were graduates, and off we went to act like juveniles at the All Night Party that was held at our high school.
Earlier this week, Cheryl, a former classmate, suggested we use our small “friendship photos” that we exchanged with one another during our senior year, as our Facebook profile picture to commemorate the 45th anniversary of our “graduation walk”, thus, that sepia-toned photo prompted this post and it appears up on top in the header photo.
I was the youngest student in my graduating class, having just turned 17 years old in April of 1973. This was because, when I was growing up in Canada, students were often “double-promoted” or skipped the “review grades” … I was a good student, but truthfully, most of the class skipped an entire grade if they were able to pass a qualifying test.
After high school, I continued my education at Henry Ford Community College, graduating with my Associate’s Degree in June 1976.
At HFCC our graduation gowns were a similar royal blue color with a white and blue mortarboard tassel. You can believe I did not unzip the graduation gown that time!
Next I went on to Wayne State University where I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in June 1978.
It seems inconceivable to me that forty years has passed – where did the time go? Mid-June 1978 was a hectic time for me. My parents were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and had a small dinner party …
… and I was working weekends at the diner, plus cramming for final exams, the last exams I would ever take. My grandmother was here from Toronto for the anniversary party and the graduation ceremony. At the last minute, I decided not to go to commencement as it was very hot and humid weather that day and my grandmother had a heart condition. Climbing stairs and the hot weather were very bad for her, so I suggested we skip the ceremony and have a celebratory dinner instead.
I took photos of my grandmother in my graduation cap and gown holding a mock diploma.
I donned my cap and gown and went to the diner to visit my boss, Erdie, to have my picture taken with him. One day I will write about Erdie and his wife Ann, who were very special to me the entire time I worked at the diner (1973 through 1978).
P.S. – I had such a solemn look on my face because I refused to smile for any photo due to my mouthful of metal braces.
Life is a journey, no matter how few or many steps you take. For me, school was a big part of that meaningful journey, and no one can take that education experience away from me, but I have gleaned more information about life well beyond the classroom environment.